It’s that time of year again, and we’ve all got a list of loved ones to buy presents for. As a college student, it can be difficult to save money during the holidays if you haven’t been planning all year. We’ve compiled a list of things you can do this season to reduce your spending and stress so you can focus on what’s truly important, your loved ones.
Before you even begin to think about buying any gifts or throwing parties, you will need to scrounge together some cash to spend. The best way to do this is to save a little bit throughout the year and put it aside as holiday cash. It’s better to spend cash during the holidays, than to spend on credit cards and then head into the New Year with debt.
If you haven’t been proactively saving all year, fear not, there’s still hope to come up with cash.
Look for some of your old college textbooks, or other personal items that you can sell for extra cash. Apps like VarageSale, available on Apple and Andorid devices, are very user friendly and allow you to make quick cash. There’s also Facebook Marketplace, and Kijiji.
Once you have your cash together, it is time to write down everyone you need to buy gifts for. Grab a piece of paper and write down the names, and their relationship to you on it, and then add two blank spaces. The reason for the two blanks is that sometimes we can forget someone and if you’ve made room for this on your spending budget, you will not get into debt.
After you have your list and your cash, make a budget with the expenses you have this season. It can include room for gifts, alcohol, party supplies, food, and whatever else you may have. To help with this you can use Finder’s Christmas Cost Corrector. You can input your income plus the amount of people you need to buy for, and it will calculate how much to spend on their gift. It will also add or subtract based on how naughty or nice they’ve been to you this past year.
If you just can’t afford to spend on individual gifts for everyone on your list, even with the help of Cost corrector, there are still ways to spread the love. DIY gifts often mean a little bit more for the receiver as it means you’ve spent time and effort into it. You can bake batches of cookies or other goodies for everyone on your list. Another favourite DIY gift is a picture frame, grab your favourite photograph with your loved one and print it off. Then you can make simple picture frames using card stock or re-purpose frames from a thrift store.
A classy way to save money on gifts can also include buying group gifts. You can buy or make one thing for mom and dad. It can be something practical they’ll use or a box of cookies to share. Combining couples is a nice way to save money on gifts.
It’s also a good idea to schedule a shopping trip day for buying gifts. Pick a day with great sales and leave your credit cards at home. Bring only your holiday budget cash or buy gift card in advance for your shopping. You can purchase bulk gift cards at discounts for your shopping day.
Another money saving idea is to buy gifts with someone else, such as your sibling for your parents, for a combined gift. In a group of friends it's a lot of fun to do a Secret Santa and set a $20 limit or similar for a gift.
Now if you’re simply low on cash, which is nothing to stress about, college is expensive, you can give out IOU’s. Get creative with these by giving out an IOU room cleaning or a car wash. Maybe you iron their clothes, or walk their dog. Alternatively, you can go shopping on Boxing Day and purchase all of your Christmas gifts and give them before New Year’s.
Finally, it is important to remember that the most precious gift of all is the gift of your time. Perhaps your gift is simply to watch a movie together and drink hot cocoa. There's no shame in skipping the gift giving and making memories instead.